Who: Musician Benjamin Lulich was born in Portland and grew up in Central Oregon from the age of 7. For several years during his youth, Lulich received scholarships through the Sunriver Music Festival’s Young Artist Scholarship Program. Today, he serves as principal clarinet for the Seattle Symphony as well as Sunriver Music Festival, which kicks off Friday at the Tower Theatre in Bend. On Sunday, Lulich will be the featured soloist on Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto A major during the Classical Concert II at Sunriver Resort Great Hall. He’s looking forward to coming home for the Festival. “I love coming back to Central Oregon in the summertime and getting to enjoy the scenery as well as the food and the beer in the area,” he said. For tickets and more information, visit sunrivermusic.org.

Q: When did you start playing clarinet?

A: I started when I was 11. I started when we were living in Bend.

Q: Do you remember what drew you to the instrument?

A: Well, my brother played the violin, and I wanted to play something different (laughs). I just somehow landed on clarinet — not entirely sure how. I just kind of picked an instrument and started and kept with it.

Q: Well, it’s worked out for you. How long have you been in Seattle?

A: Four years now.

Q: How long have you been principal clarinet in Sunriver?

A: Since about 2008 — probably close to 10 years.

Q: How many years total have you been playing with the Festival orchestra?

A: I missed a few summers, but the first time I played with it would have been 2004. I played one piece on one concert because they needed someone extra. And then I played a movement of a concerto because I was part of their Young Artist Scholarship Program.

Q: How instrumental would you say the Scholarship Program was to getting you where you are now?

A: Well, it certainly helps to get some money for school every year. And not only that, it’s also a pretty good audition process to get a scholarship. Preparing a program, you have to memorize at least one piece. Getting the experience of doing an audition like that was good also.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the piece you’ll be playing on Sunday?

A: The big piece I’m doing this year is the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. It was one of the last pieces he wrote just shortly before he died. So it’s really at the peak of his writing, and it’s regarded as one of the best concertos ever written for any instrument. … It’s always great to come back to it and play it again. It’s just such great writing.

— David Jasper, The Bulletin

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